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My question is, do they have a 'special' agreement with google, or are they doing it through the adwords interface like the rest of us joe schmoes?
Also, more and more often I am seeing TWO or THREE ebay adword ads coming up right on top of each other. Why are they allowed to do this, and I am not?
Ebay definitely does not go in and manually setup AdWords. There is probably a PPC management company that works on optimizing and tracking and you can be sure that Ebay has account reps at Google to handle the setup of a campaign the size of Ebay.
The affiliate issue is very contentious and I agree that it could be handled better, the fact that all the visible URL's are ebay is not good in my opinion, but you have to take your hat off to them that they have one of the few affiliate schemes where doing PPC is paying off in depth. Most schemes will have the super affiliates but ebay have depth.
A lot of the deals were done on Northern Banners and the keyword data that would have been available to ebay would be of immense benefit.
I'd be interested to know strategy. CTR must be pretty poor on a lot of the keyword inventory they bid on, just by nature of the lousy creative, but hey deep pockets will give you good negotiating power, you'd hate to be the Google rep that went to the head guys and introduced themselves as the guy/girl who lost the ebay account to overture......